Arts, Entertainment, & Highly-Skilled

Immigration Solutions for Highly-Skilled Individuals

Highly-Skilled Individuals

Options for those with Extraordinary or Exceptional Abilities

There are select immigration options for those with extraordinary achievements or distinguished skills. These options offer a greater degree of autonomy to applicants during the petition process and are often the fastest ways to obtain a green card. These petitions can be very time- and document-intensive requiring a significant amount of preparation.



Aliens with Extraordinary Ability


Individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, and athletics, can qualify for a green card without a job offer from a U.S. employer nor a certification from the department of labor. Qualification for this immigrant category involves two primary components: (1) the individual’s extraordinary ability in an area of expertise; and (2) intention to continue work in his or her area of expertise in the United States. Extraordinary ability is typically granted to those who have reached the top of their field.



Aliens with Extraordinary Ability (Nonimmigrant Visas)


The O-1A is the nonimmigrant version of the EB-1A. It allows individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics to engage in temporary work with an U.S. employer. Since this is a nonimmigrant visa, it does not provide green card benefits to the applicants. The standards, however, are less intensive than the EB-1A and can be obtained quickly. The O-1A category is used by individuals who wish to quickly enter the United States to begin work for an employer.


The O-1B is a nonimmigrant category specifically for individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry. Under the category, the applicant has the option of being sponsored by an agent rather than a U.S. employer. This allows the applicant to engage in work activities as an independent contractor rather than an employee. The O-1B category also has its own set of requirements which are less intensive than the requirements under the O-1A.



Outstanding Professors & Researchers


An employer may file a green card petition for an individual who is an “outstanding” professor or researcher. To qualify as “outstanding” he or she must be recognized internationally in a specific academic area.  That individual must have at least three years of experience in teaching and/or research in the academic field. Furthermore, he or she must have a qualifying offer of employment from a U.S. university, institute of higher education, or private employer. This category is often a good option for private research facilities or companies to hire talented workers on a permanent basis.



National Interest Waiver


Individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability in their field of expertise can qualify for immigration benefits under the second employment-based immigrant category (the EB-2). Petitions under this category typically requires a certification from the Department of Labor (test of the U.S. labor market) and must be sponsored by a U.S. employer. The National Interest Wavier (NIW) removes these requirements if the individual shall engage in an endeavor in the United States that has both substantial and national importance. In other words, individuals with advanced degrees or distinguished achievements in an expertise can self-petition for a green card through the National Interest Waiver.


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